The relationship between biology and geology

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Ranvier (I'll just pick one point for now, because it's late):
An interesting assertion... please offer a justification for such conclusion. How "energy" and "God" are different "concepts"? Beside of course the difference in the point of view.

My assertion was that the concept physicists are talking about when they use the word "energy" appears to be a different thing than the concept that most people appear to be talking about when they use the word "God" (and use the word "energy" as a synonym for it.)

In physics, energy is a numerical quantity, measured in Joules (in the MKS system of measurements) that is the left hand side of various mathematical equations, whose variable are measured quantities. For example, in classical mechanics, the kinetic energy of a moving body is given by the equation:

1/2mv2

where m is the mass of the object, as measured with a mass measuring device like a spring balance, and v is the velocity of the object, as measured by noting the position of the object at two different points in time (using rulers and clocks).

I've never heard God described in anything like that way. It seems unlikely that God is another way of looking at 1/2mv2. It seems much more likely that it's a different thing.

-- Updated Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:57 pm to add the following --

OK, a bit more. Then I really must go.

What I said, was that the "actual" "reality" will always be "limited" to subjective individual human perception.

Well, you didn't actually say that. You said this:

In actuality, "reality" most likely or even certainly is NOT what we perceive it to be.

But anyway, you've said it now, and expanded on it with an example:

Example: Gravity doesn't "care" how we describe or perceive gravity. It "exists" independently of human perception. However, "how" we describe gravity isn't "actually" the way gravity "is", and hence it's not understood very well. Our perception of gravity will improve with "time" but it will "never" be completely "accurate".

OK, that is clear to me. It is related to what I said in post #12. You clearly take the view that there is some objectively existing "law of gravity" which is independent of any observations and of which our successive laws of gravity are imperfect, but gradually improving, reflections. You also take the view that we will never stumble on this objectively existing law of gravity. We will only ever have imperfect reflections of it.

In fact, the "reality" is independent of human perception, the premise that this may not be "practical" doesn't change that fact. Particle accelerators or gravity wave detectors may not be "practical", yet it's a worth while human endeavor to spend billions to achieve new insights about our reality.

Careful. You're using slightly different senses of the word "practical" here. In the first sentence you're expressing the (Platonic?) view that there is a reality that is independent of perceptions. In the second sentence you're using the word "practical" in a more everyday sense.

Particle accelerators are practical in the sense that, like any other instrument of experimental physics, their purpose is to make observations - to provide us with perceptions. So one can take the view that there is no reality independent of the practice of perceiving it, and still think particle accelerators useful. But one can still think them not useful, or not practical, in the more everyday sense that perhaps we should spend the money that they cost on housing the homeless, or whatever.
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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

I must admit that Richard Dawkins is a hero of mine. As an unlettered swine, before I read The Selfish Gene in my 20s I had never been exposed to truly honest writing. For the first time I was reading material that 1) actually acknowledged that others held different views and 2) acknowledged that those others views might be more right (but then explains why he took his view). Before The Selfish Gene I knew about and "believed" in evolution, but I didn't understand it at all and still had bits of Mum's creationist woo in my head. He also helped set me free from "religious fear", that it was okay to say something doesn't make sense rather than respect its "sacredness".

So I will always defend the man on forums, even if I side with EO Wilson against him regarding the group selection debate, even if his philosophical output tends to be rocks and diamonds. People focus on his "rocks", where his extreme logical positivism belies the very scientific skepticism that he promotes and lives by, but he also makes brilliant and beautiful observations about nature. If one cannot handle many flaws in their heroes, then one's heroes are not human but angels imbued with the halo effect.

Steve, I agree that the laws of physics are a useful angle to pursue when considering the differences between "rocks and critters". It's clear that abiogenesis, like all other emergences, occurs because certain physical (chemical) thesholds are reached and surpassed. What thresholds? Complexity, seemingly, although in this sense "complexity" it means much more than complicated. It's a matter of order, with nonliving organic chemical entities increasingly developing in a way there it takes energy (and order) from the environment and uses it to create a local zone of reverse entropy.

It makes sense that these things would start to outnumber chemicals that don't react in a way that preserves a core. So they dissipated more quickly than the self-sustainers. Replication would have taken this to a new level and, again, experiments show that nonliving chemicals can replicate a little. I would also expect that replication would also be "chemically selected".

It would seem logical that the processes and qualities we associate with life were already present in chemistry, just not in one bundle.

Greta

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Steve3007

I wish that you could realize that what you offer as a "description" of energy through examples of specific equations to calculate "energy" among myriad of other equations, this is NOT "energy" but a change that occurs between "energy" states. We can't fathom an actual concept of "energy". We can only perceive "energy" as a change in time, without such "change" nothing happens and therefore we can't even describe energy, none less "understand" energy.

You whip out a ruler in inches or centimeters and start "measuring" the change in "distance" between state A and state B to calculate the "Force" it took for that change to occur in moving an object between the two points. That is not energy. Neither using the same ruler to "measure" the "dimensions" of a given "object", is going to infer anything about the "nature" or the "energy" that "makes" that object. In effect, we know as much about energy as we know in respect to God. I was being facetious in an attempt to point out how silly we are in our arguments in conviction of "knowing" something or that we can "differentiate" God from energy. It's all matter of perspective in each individual perception. But of course you'll say that this is not practical to think in such terms. "Practical" was the "term" that you assigned to my words as "Platonic" or whatever other context. For me there is only one interpretation of "practical" that stems from the individual subjective perspective of each person as to what is "useful". But you can define "practical" as anything you wish as much as it's your prerogative to determine what "perspective" on reality is "useful" to you. Personally, it's much more comprehensible and useful for me to think of the universe and "energy" as a "life force" of change in some logical cause and effect.

Ranvier

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Greta:
Before The Selfish Gene I knew about and "believed" in evolution, but I didn't understand it at all and still had bits of Mum's creationist woo in my head. He also helped set me free from "religious fear", that it was okay to say something doesn't make sense rather than respect its "sacredness".

I guess my life experiences have been a bit different. There wasn't a creationist mum or a religion fear to have to react against. There's no religion in my immediate family or friends. My mum's dad and my dad's mum were both religious (although my mum's mum was definitely not religious) so I guess my parents had something to rebel against, but their rebellions were over by the time I and my sisters came along. The pendulum had stopped swinging, or at least been severely damped by time. Religion is interesting to me in the same sense that, say, the architecture of Canterbury Cathedral is interesting. It's not personal. It's Cultural Anthropology.

So I think that's why the polemics against religion by people like Dawkins are not as interesting to me as the scientific ideas, like the concept of the selfish gene. I suspect his upbringing was probably more similar to yours than it was to mine, so that's his battle. I wish him well with it if it makes him happy to fight it.

Ranvier:
I wish that you could realize that what you offer as a "description" of energy through examples of specific equations to calculate "energy" among myriad of other equations, this is NOT "energy" but a change that occurs between "energy" states.

Again, if we're talking about the standard definitions of words you're simply factually incorrect. The description that I just gave is the standard definition, in classical mechanics, of the energy of a moving object. If we're not using the standard definitions of words then you're free to claim that "energy" is anything you want. But at least acknowledge that's what you're doing.

I showed the simple way that classical kinetic energy can be measured indirectly via a simple equation. It's a definition that you can use. You can take it to the bank. It makes energy a useful concept.

It simply makes no sense to define a concept like energy without being able to reference the way in which it is, directly or indirectly, measured. You just end up with a vague and useless definition like the one you gave at the end of your post here:

Personally, it's much more comprehensible and useful for me to think of the universe and "energy" as a "life force" of change in some logical cause and effect

OK. It's useful to you, you say. What do you use it for?

You start by defining "universe" and "energy" as synonyms. If so, why have two words and not one? Then you use the vague undefined term "life force". Then you say that energy is the weird non-grammatical phrase:

"a 'life force' of change in some logical cause and effect".

Unless you can expand it into something coherent that's gibberish, I'm afraid.

But ok, let me try to see if I can take your definition of energy and use it for something. Somebody tells me to measure the energy of a system to see whether the energy is conserved. How do I do that using your definition? If your definition of the word "energy" can't be used for anything, what's it for? Is it a piece of abstract art or poetry? Am I supposed to simply look at it and admire its asthetic beauty?

You whip out a ruler in inches or centimeters and start "measuring" the change in "distance" between state A and state B to calculate the "Force" it took for that change to occur in moving an object between the two points.

No, you're muddling up your terminology again as you have before. We're not calculating a force. The object moving at constant velocity whose kinetic energy we are calculating is, by definition, not acted on by a force.

Possibly you think I'm nitpicking by pointing this out. But if you think of all these standard terms which represent concepts whose values are the results of measurements as a big vague interchangeable mishmash, as you seem to do by the use of words in passages like the one above, then, as I've said before, we're not speaking the same language. You're not speaking a coherent self-consistent language at all. As I said, if it's art then fine. If it's poetry, great. I'll simply admire its aesthetic beauty, if it appears to me to have any, and say "that's lovely Ranvier". But if it's a proposition about the world that you want to discuss and examine, then it has to relate to observations about that world.

-- Updated Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:34 pm to add the following --

Ranvier:
That is not energy.

Indeed it isn't. You've got muddled with the concept of force.

Neither using the same ruler to "measure" the "dimensions" of a given "object", is going to infer anything about the "nature" or the "energy" that "makes" that object.

It is, because energy, as used in physics, is a concept that was invented by human beings and which is, as I said, the left-hand side of various equations. It was noted that it is a quantity that remains constant. That is very useful, and it is that which leads people to think of energy as a "thing" and for people like you to imagine that it therefore somehow wasn't invented by us at all but is something which has some kind of "real nature" that is wholly independent of any possible measurements or observations. this is not the case.

"Practical" was the "term" that you assigned to my words as "Platonic" or whatever other context.

I used the term Platonic because of Plato's famous concept of "forms". He proposed an idealised world of these "forms" of which the world that we perceive is merely an imperfect reflection. Your ideas reminded me of that.

For me there is only one interpretation of "practical" that stems from the individual subjective perspective of each person as to what is "useful". But you can define "practical" as anything you wish as much as it's your prerogative to determine what "perspective" on reality is "useful" to you.

Yes, "practical" is related to what is useful. And that is related to what our present purposes are. If our purpose is to find patterns in our observations and turn them into laws of physics then a particle accelerator (since it is a device for making empirical observations) is practical. If our purpose is to build a better society and house the homeless or whatever, it's arguably not so practical.
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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Steve3007

In regards of the "standard" definition of Energy

Steve3007 wrote:Ranvier:
I wish that you could realize that what you offer as a "description" of energy through examples of specific equations to calculate "energy" among myriad of other equations, this is NOT "energy" but a change that occurs between "energy" states.

Steve3007:
Again, if we're talking about the standard definitions of words you're simply factually incorrect.(That's a bold claim ) The description that I just gave is the standard definition, in classical mechanics, of the energy of a moving object. If we're not using the standard definitions of words then you're free to claim that "energy" is anything you want. But at least acknowledge that's what you're doing.

I showed the simple way that classical kinetic energy can be measured indirectly via a simple equation. It's a definition that you can use. You can take it to the bank. It makes energy a useful concept.

It simply makes no sense to define a concept like energy without being able to reference the way in which it is, directly or indirectly, measured. You just end up with a vague and useless definition like the one you gave at the end of your post here:

Personally, it's much more comprehensible and useful for me to think of the universe and "energy" as a "life force" of change in some logical cause and effect

Standard...Definition...of Energy?

What in the world are you talking about?? You make a claim that I'm "muddling" definitions of standard "words", when you can't offer the same "word" in a single sentence by "muddling" energy with kinetic energy

Here are some other descriptions of energy:

- Kinetic energy
- Potential energy
- Mechanical energy
- Electric energy
- Magnetic energy
- Gravitational energy
- Chemical energy
- Ionization energy
- Nuclear energy
- Chromodynamic energy
- Elastic energy
- Rest energy
- Thermal energy

...But in your mind you had defined "Energy" for us, thank you

Ranvier

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Ravnier:
What in the world are you talking about?? You make a claim that I'm "muddling" definitions of standard "words", when you can't offer the same "word" in a single sentence by "muddling" energy with kinetic energy

A bit of English grammar: Where did I muddle the general term "energy" with the specific term "kinetic energy"? Simply referring to two different terms in the same sentence or passage does not constitute muddling them. It is not the same thing as equating those two terms. Did I say that "energy = kinetic energy"? No.

Steve3007:

The description that I just gave is the standard definition, in classical mechanics, of the energy of a moving object.

(Hint: What's another term for the energy of a moving object?)

In physics, energy is a numerical quantity, measured in Joules (in the MKS system of measurements) that is the left hand side of various mathematical equations, whose variable are measured quantities. For example, in classical mechanics, the kinetic energy of a moving body is given by the equation...

So I stated that one example of energy is classical kinetic energy (i.e the energy of a moving object in classical physics) and showed the equation for it. And I stated that energy in general is the left hand side of various different equations. Different types of energy - different equations. You've looked up some more examples for us. Well done. So which of those examples do you think could be described by your definition:

"a 'life force' of change in some logical cause and effect"?

None? All?

Let's take one of those other examples of energy that you listed. Gravitational energy. It's a form of potential energy, so it's sometimes called gravitational potential energy. Let's look at the equation for which that one is the left-hand side, in a uniform gravitational field:

gravitational potential energy = mgh (mass x acceleration due to gravity x height)

For an object moving in a uniform gravitational field, in the absence of frictional forces, we find that if we add those two quantities together (gravitational potential and kinetic energies) that sum remains constant. So in this limited situation we've found something that we can use. We can use the conservation of energy (in this case the conservation of these two types of energy together) to calculate various things about that object.

This is how, in the context of physics, concepts like energy are defined - by the way in which they are measured and used. By all means use a word like "energy" in other contexts. I'm sure I've done it myself plenty of times. But remember that when you do that, you're using the same word for a different concept. It's a different meaning for the same word . That was the very, very simple and really quite obvious thing that I said at the beginning of this whole digression.
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Steve3007

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Steve3007

Steve3007 wrote:Ravnier:
What in the world are you talking about?? You make a claim that I'm "muddling" definitions of standard "words", when you can't offer the same "word" in a single sentence by "muddling" energy with kinetic energy

Steve3007:
A bit of English grammar: Where did I muddle the general term "energy" with the specific term "kinetic energy"? Simply referring to two different terms in the same sentence or passage does not constitute muddling them. It is not the same thing as equating those two terms. Did I say that "energy = kinetic energy"? No.

Steve3007:
The description that I just gave is the standard definition, in classical mechanics, of the energy of a moving object.

(Hint: What's another term for the energy of a moving object?)

Yes Steve, let us use a bit of English grammar:

Let us "strip" the above "hint" sentence...

"Hint: What's another term for the energy of a moving object"
In this sentence, what is "Energy"?:
- the movement
- the object
- or some other term for "Energy"

Here are two other examples of your grammar:

Steve3007
In physics, energy is a numerical quantity, measured in Joules (in the MKS system of measurements) that is the left hand side of various mathematical equations, whose variable are measured quantities. For example, in classical mechanics, the kinetic energy of a moving body is given by the equation:

1/2mv2

So, does "Energy is" = "kinetic energy"?

Steve3007
I showed the simple way that classical kinetic energy can be measured indirectly via a simple equation. It's a definition that you can use. You can take it to the bank. It makes energy a useful concept.

So now, it's the "classical kinetic energy" = "Energy"?

Ranvier

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Steve3007 wrote:Greta:
Before The Selfish Gene I knew about and "believed" in evolution, but I didn't understand it at all and still had bits of Mum's creationist woo in my head. He also helped set me free from "religious fear", that it was okay to say something doesn't make sense rather than respect its "sacredness".

I guess my life experiences have been a bit different. There wasn't a creationist mum or a religion fear to have to react against. There's no religion in my immediate family or friends. My mum's dad and my dad's mum were both religious (although my mum's mum was definitely not religious) so I guess my parents had something to rebel against, but their rebellions were over by the time I and my sisters came along. The pendulum had stopped swinging, or at least been severely damped by time. Religion is interesting to me in the same sense that, say, the architecture of Canterbury Cathedral is interesting. It's not personal. It's Cultural Anthropology.

So I think that's why the polemics against religion by people like Dawkins are not as interesting to me as the scientific ideas, like the concept of the selfish gene. I suspect his upbringing was probably more similar to yours than it was to mine, so that's his battle. I wish him well with it if it makes him happy to fight it.

Not at all, Steve. Read the Selfish Gene. He had no axe to grind. That happened later because he became a "famous evolutionary biologist". That made him a target for creationists. I used to work in an organisation with scientists and it's hard to find an evolutionary biologist or palaeontologist who hasn't had problems with theistic harassment.

It is creationists who start these fights and then play innocent and play the martyr as though they are the ones being harassed. It is exactly the same game at school. The kid next to you pinches you. You yell "ow!" and get detention for disrupting the class.

And Steve, you replied to the very least interesting and relevant part of my post! I was hoping for F/B on my ideas, but I suppose your silence says it all. I never was good with subtle hints.

Greta

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Greta:
And Steve, you replied to the very least interesting and relevant part of my post! I was hoping for F/B on my ideas, but I suppose your silence says it all. I never was good with subtle hints.

Sorry. I did read the rest of the post but often, being a bit lazy, after reading a post, I tend to reply to just the part that it's immediately easy to think of some words for, and then sit back and consider more thought-provoking parts. And then it's too late to reply because things move on. It means that there can be a tendency to give the impression that only the low hanging fruit ever get picked, because in a remote written discussion forum any non-written reactions are invisible. Silence doesn't always necessarily say it all.

Steve, I agree that the laws of physics are a useful angle to pursue when considering the differences between "rocks and critters". It's clear that abiogenesis, like all other emergences, occurs because certain physical (chemical) thresholds are reached and surpassed. What thresholds? Complexity, seemingly, although in this sense "complexity" it means much more than complicated. It's a matter of order, with nonliving organic chemical entities increasingly developing in a way there it takes energy (and order) from the environment and uses it to create a local zone of reverse entropy.

It makes sense that these things would start to outnumber chemicals that don't react in a way that preserves a core. So they dissipated more quickly than the self-sustainers. Replication would have taken this to a new level and, again, experiments show that nonliving chemicals can replicate a little. I would also expect that replication would also be "chemically selected".

It would seem logical that the processes and qualities we associate with life were already present in chemistry, just not in one bundle.

So one thing you seem to be saying here is that inheritance and selection - the ability to pass on beneficial characteristics to offspring which is a key feature of life - could have worked to pass on the general property of "order" and select against the general property of "disorder".

It's sometimes asked how the huge amount of order that we see in the natural world can exist given the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The usual answer is to point out that that law applies to closed physical systems, but the Earth is an open system, with the combination of hot sun and cold sky acting as an entropy pump. It is usually that overall mechanism that is cited as the source of the local reverse entropy. What you're suggesting (if I read you right) is that low entropy is selected for - that the principle of natural selection itself creates the local reverse entropy.

Is that right?

-- Updated Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:15 am to add the following --

---

Steve3007:
(Hint: What's another term for the energy of a moving object?)

Ranvier:
Let us "strip" the above "hint" sentence...

"Hint: What's another term for the energy of a moving object"
In this sentence, what is "Energy"?:
- the movement
- the object
- or some other term for "Energy"

Energy is a superset of which kinetic energy is a subset. As I've said, energy is the left-hand side of various equations. Kinetic energy is the left-hand side of one particular equation.

The question mark on the end (which you've omitted) shows it to be a question. It is inviting you to think of another term for this term: "the energy of a moving object". The answer to the question is, of course, the specific kind of energy which is called kinetic energy. So:

Kinetic Energy = the energy of a moving object.

In other words, another term for "the energy of a moving object" is "kinetic Energy".

OK?

Steve3007:
In physics, energy is a numerical quantity, measured in Joules (in the MKS system of measurements) that is the left hand side of various mathematical equations, whose variable are measured quantities. For example, in classical mechanics, the kinetic energy of a moving body is given by the equation:

1/2mv2

Ranvier:
So, does "Energy is" = "kinetic energy"?

No. The clue is in the fact that I didn't say that. I said that energy is a numerical quantity, measured in Joules (in the MKS system of measurements) that is the left hand side of various mathematical equations.

If I had meant to say:

"Energy is" = "kinetic energy"

then I would have said

"Energy is" = "kinetic energy".

But obviously that form of words wouldn't make sense because it contains two equality operators (the "is" and the =). If we remove one and write "energy = kinetic energy" then that would fix the grammar, but it would incorrectly be stating that the general term "energy" is the same thing as the specific example of energy called "kinetic energy". A bit like saying "dog = Labrador" or "car = VW Beetle". It would be better to say "a Labrador is an example of a kind of dog" or perhaps "Dog is the superset of which Labrador is the subset". Although that latter form of words is not one that we would probably use in everyday speech.

All clear now?
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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Steve3007

I knew what you meant before, I was just showing inconsistency of your language. I return to my original statement: we can't fathom "energy". We can only observe changes is the energy states, which we describe as particular "view" of that change in thermodynamics or nuclear physics. My contention was with our ignorance and hubris in "believing" that we know or understand what"energy" is.

I stated that people have different "perspectives" on the "reality", where for some people "energy" is described in terms of equations in physics, while for others "energy" may be a description for "God". To this you replied that these are two different concepts, where I was trying to point out that you can't know that or make such a claim because you don't know what is "energy" or "God". In effect, you can't disprove God = mc^2, other than to say that such an equation doesn't make sense to you.

Ranvier

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

I knew what you meant before, I was just showing inconsistency of your language.

And you didn't succeed in showing the inconsitency of my language, did you? If you did, show me where.

In effect, you can't disprove God = mc^2, other than to say that such an equation doesn't make sense to you.

In the same sense, if I insist that the word "toothbrush" refers to a four legged animal that goes "woof", you can't disprove it either. But do you think that would be a sensible or useful direction for the conversation to take?
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Steve3007

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Steve3007 wrote:And you didn't succeed in showing the inconsitency of my language, did you? If you did, show me where.

I thought I did... obviously people see what they "want" to see, in an egocentric delusion of self importance in attributing too much weight to the conviction of "accuracy" of their words.

Steve3007
In the same sense, if I insist that the word "toothbrush" refers to a four legged animal that goes "woof", you can't disprove it either. But do you think that would be a sensible or useful direction for the conversation to take?

Sure, you can. It's a childish analogy but yeah, you can call your dog a "toothbrush". I can't speak of the "usefulness" of calling your dog "toothbrush" versus some other name, although perhaps a shorter name might be more practical.

Ranvier

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

I thought I did

Show me where. If my words are inconsistent people will be less likely to understand me. So I probably need to know.
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Steve3007

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Ranvier

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Re: The relationship between biology and geology

Well, i suppose I could answer that if you can't understand my replies to those posts then I can't help you. Stalemate, I suppose.

That's an interesting feature of these sorts of discussions isn't it? No matter how high or low the quality of the argument each side has made, each side can always just say "I've already shown you where you are wrong and if you can't see it, that's your problem" or something similar.
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Spectrum 23
Belinda 23
whitetrshsoldier 20
Josefina1110 19
Last updated January 6, 2017, 6:28 pm EST